The hospitality sector has been a rich hunting ground for digital disruptors. For those prepared to do things differently or go above and beyond expectations, there has been a receptive audience and underserved customer demand.
Naturally, this has fuelled fierce competition for revenue. But service-led aggregators such as Booking.com or Just Eat, although fulfilling this requirement and connecting customers to brands, don’t command the loyalty of a hotel or restaurant.
How has Nando’s built a devoted tribe of followers and why do people insist on flying with British Airways?
It comes down to alignment around purpose, mission, vision and brand. While typically the domain of the marketing department, it should be evident throughout every engagement with your destination and should be a factor in every technological decision you make.
In this series we’ve looked at evaluating your technology platform and building a roadmap, starting small but thinking big. We’ve explored the need to break down information silos standing in the way of seamless experiences.
We’ve talked about the need to take ownership of critical elements of your platform, bringing in third party applications to fulfil specific requirements or tasks. And last week we discussed the need to create an ecosystem primed for rapid experimentation.
Now, in the last in our five-part series, let's look at the need to build consensus around the direction of travel and how alignment plays a pivotal role in driving loyal customers.
Define a brand or service promise and deliver it
A distinctive brand with a strong and well understood promise will always outperform a similar-looking competitor without a compelling proposition.
When guests perceive additional value for goods or a service, or even recognise their values reflected in a brand they will naturally gravitate towards it.
It is precisely how brands such as Innocent, Patagonia and even Apple have grown, flourished and attracted loyal followings.
The same logic applies to hospitality. Whatever position you adopt in the market, that should be clearly noticeable in your services and delivery.
You must continuously and reliably deliver on your promise. Quality and consistency of service develops loyalty that can then be cemented with loyalty programmes that build stickiness.
Create a loyalty programme to enhance lifetime guest value
Loyalty programmes, or more accurately, rewards programmes, help to reinforce your service offering while elevating the value you return to your guests.
Consider the best ways to reward your guests and create compelling propositions that do keep them coming back. Consumers are increasingly sensitive around expenditure following the pandemic and are therefore much more selective about where they spend.
If they perceive that their values are reflected and that they will receive a fair exchange for their commitment at your hotel, you stand a greater chance of securing their business both in the immediate future and over the lifetime of your engagement with them.
Don’t forget that your guests hold all the power. The internet has empowered everyone to conduct thorough research ahead of any booking so it's on you to manage your online presence and also create compelling experiences your guests want to share.
There is an appetite for rewards programmes that work well, are easy to use, and provide a real benefit. Can you say that you offer that to your guests right now?
Communicate your vision and drive organisational alignment
To get to the point where you have clearly defined your brand, and what that represents for your service delivery and evaluate your technology stack in order to bring it all to life takes serious collaboration and alignment across the organisation.
Already in this series we’ve discussed the need to adopt a product mindset to your services and to consider the implications of this approach on the structure of your teams. But it’s one thing building the plan, it's a whole other challenge in bringing everyone together to align, refine and execute.
Much of Red Badger’s work with clients is spent in this area, helping organisations transition. We partner with our clients in this regard, championing the value of the transformation process, assisting in planning and ensuring there is consensus for the work ahead.
We deploy a range of tools to help clients experiment with what this might look like or mean for them, making sure that we pick the right ones for the task at hand. Being independent is critical at this stage since it means we can see the path with the clearest eyes and give the right guidance.
One of our core lessons from the years we’ve spent doing this work is on the importance of clear, concise and regular communication. If you’re unsure if you’re communicating too much, you’re probably not communicating enough.